St. Olaf College | News

Institute’s fall series will explore the presidential election and a nation in crisis

The Institute for Freedom & Community’s fall series, The Presidential Election and a Nation in Crisis: Polarization, Pandemic, Prejudice, will include six events focused on the political divisions in the U.S. leading up to the 2020 presidential election, as well as discussions about similarly polarizing issues such as race and class, and the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Each event in the fall series will be hosted virtually, and these live videos can be accessed through links on the Institute’s website.  Events will include a conversation between our invited speaker and Morrison Family Director of the Institute for Freedom and Community Edmund Santurri. All speaker events are free and open to the public, and their recordings will be archived online.

The fall speaker series will begin on September 1 with an interview with American political commentator and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang on A Nation in Crisis. Yang’s run for president in 2020 brought forth a bold vision for a trickle-up economy and emphasized the power of investing in American families. Any St. Olaf student interested in posing a question to Yang prior to the event must submit a video recording by August 10 in order to have their question considered. Pre-register for the event today! 

The series will continue on September 24 with a conversation with English and comparative literature professor at Columbia University James Shapiro. The title of his talk shares the same title as his recent book:  Shakespeare in a Divided America. Read an NY Times review of his recent monograph here

On October 5 the Institute will welcome Marcia Chatelain, who will speak on the topic of Capitalism, Race and Class: The Case of McDonald’s. An NY Times review of her recent, Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America, can be found here. Chatelain is a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at Georgetown University. 

The fourth event in the fall series will be on The State of the Presidential Election and will discuss the issues and trends that have shaped this year’s election. This conversation on October 26 will feature NPR host Amy Walter, who is known as one of the best political journalists covering Washington.

To round off the fall speaker series, a conversation with Mike Osterholm on November 10 will explore the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Osterholm serves as Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health, and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota. His event will be titled Public Policy and COVID-19.

Established at St. Olaf in 2014, the Institute for Freedom and Community encourages free inquiry and meaningful debate of important political and social issues among students, faculty, and the general public. To that end, the Institute will sponsor a range of fall programming opportunities, in addition to the lecture series, to further cultivate civil discourse within the context of the liberal arts. 

Please visit the Institute’s website for the full list of fall speakers. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for the quarterly newsletter to receive regular updates and information about Institute programming.